Oklahoma City Zoo, OG&E partner up to provide vegetation to animals

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OKC Zoo baby elephant eating browse

An OKC Zoo baby elephant feeding on browse materials (tree trimmings and vegetation) provided by OG&E.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden and Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) teamed up to supply zoo animals with nutritious vegetation, earning them an award from the Environmental Federation of Oklahoma (EFO).

EFO awarded the Oklahoma City Zoo and OG&E the 2021 Frank Condon Award for Environmental Excellence for their work in supplying the zoo animals with dietary needs through their vegetation “browse” program.

“The Frank Condon Award for Environmental Excellence recognizes member organizations which have implemented innovative contributions to benefiting the environment,” said President of EFO, Howard ‘Bud’ Ground. “We admire those in our community, like this partnership, who value environmental stewardship and find creative ways to help the environment through innovative, voluntary, and effective environmental programs.”

This partnership began in April of 2020 when members of OG&E’s vegetation management team made its first delivery to the Zoo of 15,000 pounds of Mulberry, Hackberry and Elm tree trimmings, or “browse,” collected through OG&E’s daily vegetation management maintenance activities.

The browse material is used to supplement food resources for different animals at the Zoo including Asian elephants, giraffes and Western lowland gorillas.

Browse collected from OG&E tree trimmings are typically chipped or disposed of without reuse opportunities available.

“The Zoo is grateful for OG&E’s contribution to supporting the Zoo and our animals through this program,” said Dwight Lawson, OKC Zoo’s executive director and CEO. “Being able to locally recycle the browse of our community not only enriches the lives of our animals but it also helps repurpose these materials which has a direct impact on our environment.”

This year, OG&E has made over 48 deliveries of browse to the Zoo, donating more than 700,000 pounds of resources, with a goal of 900,000 pounds by the end of 2021.

“OG&E has a passion for positive partnerships and environmental stewardship, allowing us to give back to a variety of communities, including these animals, providing enrichment and nourishment,” said Nicole Rhodes, OG&E’s Director of Transmission & Distribution, Resource Planning & Coordination. “During our daily tree trimming and maintenance activities, browse must be removed to provide our customers with reliable service. Now, we are cutting down on our waste and promoting environmental stewardship by rerouting our wood browse.”

OG&E gave a presentation back in October regarding the project to EFO award committee members. The winners are honored at the EFO’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show.

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